Influence of media reporting in anti-terrorism war. A case study of Kenya defense forces operations in Somalia (2011-2018)
Njoroge, Njihia Jackson
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Media coverage of conflicts has since time immemorial been a challenge owing to the complexities involved. For the Kenyan case, the country’s Kenya Defence Force was getting involved in a maiden international war in 2011 otherwise dubbed Operation ‘Linda Nchi’ to curb the terrorist threat on Kenyan soil. Similarly, Kenyan media were engaged in their maiden coverage of international war and had to deliver information about the war to the public with skills honed from the coverage of internal skirmishes where KDF had been involved. This study sought to examine the influence of media coverage of KDF operations on the fight against terrorism between 2011 and 2018 with a special focus on local media. Specifically, the study was to: find out the journalism methods employed by Kenya Television before and after the start of KDF operations against terrorism; examine the influence of Kenya Television coverage in the fight against terrorism and; explore strategies to improve journalism policies regarding Kenya Television coverage in the fight against terrorism and adoption of suitable methods. The study was premised on the Agenda Setting Theory, Social Learning Theory and Gatekeeping Theory. It employed a descriptive research and exploratory design, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches of data collection. The study target population included media professionals, KDF anti-terrorism lead operatives and key stakeholders including CAK officials, Ministry of Defence and ICT officials. A study sample size of 44 respondents was chosen for this study defined by a sampling formula by Yamane (1967) for primary respondents and purposive sampling for key informants. The study was conducted in Nairobi due to the availability of, targeted media personalities and media houses and key stakeholders based within the city. Qualitative data was analysed using content analysis technique while quantitative data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. From the study, it emerged that the media used different techniques to cover military operations depending on the individuals, institutions interests or stage of the operation. These included: investigative journalism as freelance journalists; embedding journalists with troops; live coverage and; parachuting journalism. Indeed the findings show that there was positive and significant relationship between the techniques and the fight against terrorism. Several strategies were seen as been of paramount importance in improving journalism strategies regarding media coverage in the fight against terrorism. Strategies such as policies on training, adherence to existing laws and ways of enhancing cooperation between the television reporters and the military were essential. Enabling access to information by the mass media since this could boost the morale of the media to support the military through objective reporting would be enhanced and this could yield positive results in counter-terrorism efforts. The study compared Kenya government and first world governments and recorded that it should use its superior resources and ICT infrastructure to win propaganda war through the state and private media. Effort should be made by the media to ensure that their reports are not used as avenues for carrying terrorist propaganda. Furthermore, journalists should be encouraged to be careful in their analysis and presentation of news to the general public. The study recommends comparative studies on other security agencies such as the National Police Service for comparative purposes. Comparative studies focused on other countries such as Uganda whose security forces are also involved in the fight against terrorism in Uganda could also be carried out.
Africa Nazarene University